BOOKS OF THE WEEK
A NEW AUTHOR OF GOOD STORIES OF SOUTHERN NEGRO LIFE.
IT IS very rare to find a writer who touches the Southern negro without exaggeration. Joel Chandler Harris, Mrs. Burnett, Ruth McEnery Stuart, Thomas Nelson Page and James Lane Allen are the few exceptions. To these must be added Charles W. Chestnutt, a new Southern writer whose work easily outranks that of all the others except the creator of "Uncle Remus." Mr. Chestnutt’s first book, "The Conjure Woman," was a fine collection of tales of negro life, full of humor and pathos. His second book, "The Wife of His Youth and Other Stories," is brough out by Houghton, Mifflin & Co. of Boston, and is sold at $1 50.
Most of the tales have already appeared in the magazines, but they are good enough to read several times. The title story relates the search of an old negro woman for the mulatto husband who ran away just before the war broke out to save himself from being sold. He had become rich and honored in a Northern city and on the eve of his marriage to a young and attractive widow, his old wife appears and tells her story. She does not know him, as he has changed his name, but at a party which he gave in the evening he tells the story of her twenty-five years’ faithful search and asks the company whether this man should recognize the wife of his youth who had displayed such great fidelity to an old love. When they said yes, he steps to the door, leads in a little, old black woman and introduces her as his wife. The other stories are all good and each brings out some new trait of the negro race. "A Web of Circumstance" shows the ruin that followed an unjust charge against a negro blacksmith. It is told with great sympathy for the difficult position of the colored man in the South. Mr. Chestnutt gained his knowledge of Southern life from long residence in North Carolina. He spent his boyhood and youth in that State, but finally moved to Cleveland, O., where he did court reporting and studied law. His first literary work was for the syndicates, but most of his stories have been printed in the Atlantic Monthly.
"A New Author of Good Stories of Southern Negro Life," in "Books of the Week," San Francisco Chronicle 7 Jan. 1900: Sunday Supp. 4.